Mnemosyne Technique and…the circus?

Circus backgroundToday was supposed to be my first day filming Mnemosyne Technique, but unfortunately we didn’t to shoot.  I met the director, Brett, and the actress playing my wife, Pooyah, at Starbucks.  Brett gave us some cash so Pooyah and I could get lunch and get to know each other, and it gave the crew a little more time to get set up.  Pooyah and I found a Shake Shack, which was a first for both of us, and had a blast getting to know each other.

When we arrived at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, where we were set to shoot, we hit a snag.  Brett got clearance to shoot at the hotel a while ago, but when he showed up and started setting up the camera, someone came down to the cafe area and told him that we had to wait for him to get clearance someone someone on the national level.  Apparently whoever gave Brett permission before didn’t have the authority to give permission.  And obviously, shooting a scene in the cafe of a hotel in Brooklyn was pretty low on the priority list for anyone that might check the voicemail the hotel manager left.  So we didn’t get to shoot.  But that’s not what this post is about.

I got a text from my buddy Danny saying “dammit Kevin, are you available or not?”  I had no idea what he was talking about until I remembered that I had an unheard voicemail from him. (I have the terrible habit of saying to myself “I’ll check it later.”)

Anyway, Danny is the bassist on the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Gold Unit, and it turns out, they need a keys 2 sub for a few weeks!  Months ago, thanks to Danny, I interviewed for the Keys 1 position, but after learning about the necessity to know synth programming, I told the conductor that I was pulling myself out of the race.  I was pretty sure he’d find someone more qualified, since I have yet to program a keyboard.  But apparently I made a pretty dandy impression, because Danny said that Robbie, the conductor, asked him to check in with me to see if I was available.

I just got off the phone with him, got some preliminary info, and now I’ve got to circle up with the conductor and chat a little more.  And obviously, look at my schedule and see if there is any possible way to make it work, which usually seems unlikely.  For some reason, though, I have a pretty good feeling about this!

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SVA: Cop Vacation

I was back at SVA (School of Visual Arts) tonight, this time for a “class shoot,” working on a short film script called Cop Vacation.  I got a call last night around 7, asking it I was available to come in tonight for the class.  I confirmed that I was available, and around 9:30, I received the script over e-mail.

It’s a funny little comedy about two cops, one a detective and the other a captain, trying to work the system to get forced vacation.  I was playing the detective, trying to convince the captain that I had caused so much controversy in the department that they must be giving me “mandatory vacation so I can cool my heels.”  The captain, who was played by John G. Gallagher–and actor I recognized from TV–plays along, letting me know what a great detective I am, and how they couldn’t possible lose me until I finished the case.  In the end, when I tell him it should all be wrapped up next week with a major takedown of the D.A. and police commissioner, he says “great, I’ll still be in Hawaii at that point.”  He then stands up, revealing the below his jacket, shirt, and tie, he is wearing Bermuda shorts.  Turns out he outsmarted me, and convinced the “uppity ups” that he, himself, was the hothead in need of some time away from the office, and was on his way to the airport.  As he leaves, I sit there, dejected, and phone my girlfriend to tell her our vacation plans are off.

It was a great script and really fun to work in class.  It was a class for first year students, taught my Sal Petrosino, with a woman named Martha as the guest lecturer.  What I love about these projects is the free education I get from these superstar instructors who are actively working in the field, and it’s great to know what the next generation of filmmakers are being taught.  I was there an hour early, so I was able to sit in and take notes–probably more than some of the students–while Martha was teaching them about the role of a script supervisor, something I knew nothing about!  Not only am I learning a ton, but it really makes me appreciate everything that goes into the production aspect of a film.  I understand how theatre works, and could tell you what most of the major players do on the production team, but film and television is still a foreign language to me.

It also keeps me on my toes as far as acting and memorizing!  In theatre, we have the luxury of rehearsing and rehearsing until it’s “go time” and the audience is there.  In film, for the most part, you look at your script and go.  I had the script right before I was heading home to bed, and after working a few hours at the Equity office today, I had just enough time to grab a coffee and cram these lines so that I could have the script memorized and ready to shoot, and with an actor I had never met.  John and I were able to shake hands, chat for a couple minutes, and after one run through, it was time to start rolling!

This was my third time at SVA and hopefully the work will keep coming.  The students there are great, the faculty members are incredible, and the education I get, along with the acting experiences, have been stellar!  And you never know, one of these quiet, start-of-their-career students, learning for the first time how to really make a movie, could turn out to be the next Scorsese!

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The Twins Film: Photo Shoot and Rehearsal

Today started with another great monologue class with Chelsea.  I presented a monologue from the play “Cock.”  It went really well, and I got a ton of helpful feedback so that I can really get the monologue in a great place for auditions.  Next week, for our showcase in front of casting director Michael Cassara, the class and Chelsea agreed that I should do my pieces from Next Fall and To Ninevah.

Random side note, when you’re at the Drama Book Shop and you’re trying to Google the name of a play to find out the playwright (since they’re listed alphabetically by last name), be careful.  For my monologue last week, I was there and googled “To Ninevah Play” and the information I needed came right up.  When you google the title of this week’s monologue, followed by the word “play,” you might get a few thousand matches you won’t want to show your mama.  I can’t believe I didn’t catch on to what I was searching for until the results and images came up!

Tonight I met with Bob and Tina for the film I’m shooting this weekend, which I still don’t know the title of!  I keep forgetting to ask Bob, the director, if he has one and just didn’t give us the title page, or if he’s waiting to see the finished project to put a name on it.  So since I’m playing twins, sort of, that’s what it is for now.

The first thing we had to do was a quick photo shoot.  There’s a scene in the movie where my girlfriend, Lizzie, runs into a woman named Karen.  They bump into each other and some photos fall out of Karen’s purse.  Lizzie helps he pick them up and sees all of the pictures are cute, lovey images of Karen and I, or so she thinks.  She confronts me about it, and then I start to explain.  So we had to meet to take the photos that they’ll use as props, and then we had a blocking rehearsal for our scenes.

Tina, who plays Karen, is awesome.  While we were chatting, we realized that we both spent a year in Seoul, one year apart, so we had lots to talk about!  The one thing I learned is I don’t have a “wicked smile.”  In the last scene, Karen is coaxing me to get in bed with her.  The script says that I watch her walk to the bed, straight-faced, then flash a wicked smile, and then a normal smile.  I’ve got the normal smile, or at least what I think is normal.  But a wicked smile?  Totally lost.  I couldn’t stop giggling, thinking of how stupid I must look, being totally out of my comfort zone.  Bob kept saying, “you know, it’s that really sexy, I-know-what’s-about-to-happen-and-it’s-gonna-be-wild smile.”  Oh yeah, I flash that one all the time!  So I’ve got some awkward practice time in front of the mirror planned for the next couple days.  And it’s a tight close-up so there’s no way around it.

Time to go seduce my reflection!

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That’s A Wrap: Professionally Single

Today was our second and final day filming Professionally Single, and it was even more fun today than it was yesterday.  Since we were all new yesterday, the early hours were spent with the usual and somewhat awkward small talk where everyone is just getting to know each other and feel each other out.

Today it was handshakes, hugs, and familiar faces as soon as we arrived. The cast (talent) was called at 12:00, but the director knew I’d be late coming from my church gig.  I got there just in time to snatch a bagel, a cup of coffee, and a seat on the couch.  It was a couple hours before I was needed, so I got a lot of work done on a new monologue, as well as marking up some changes for a new domain I just bought (more to come).  And then it was time to have some fun!

My character, Billy Bob, has two lines: “Well, if someone tried to rape me, I’d just sh*t on them,” and “Now I’ve really gotta sh*t.”  If I didn’t spend 7 years in college preparing for this day (you read that right), I don’t think I’d ever have been able to deliver those lines with the conviction that I did today.  I mean, it’s such a meaty role and a pivotal plot point!  (seriously, pick up on the sarcasm)  But I have to admit, I loved the reaction I got when I first delivered the lines.

And then it was time for more sliders, so all was well in the world.  I was “wrapped” at 7:30, and the rest of the shoot was over by 8:00.  Within the next month, I should have a copy of the project, so I’ll be able to share it here, or at least put in a YouTube link.

Tomorrow, I’ve got a monologue class from 10-12, rehearsal for an audio drama at NYU from 12:30-2:30, an audition at 3 for a TV show called “Most Likely To Be Murdered,” and then an audition class from 7-9:30.  I’m obsessed with days like this, where I just go like mad all day, but everything I do is fun and creative.  I mean, where else could I perform a monologue about a gay guy whose boyfriend prays for forgiveness after sex, then do a voiceover as a lawyer who helps victims of zombie attacks, improv a monologue about murder for a casting director, and then get great advice from an incredible acting coach all in one day?  I ♥ NY

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My First Student Film: Professionally Single

Today I started shooting my first student film. While “Professionally Single” could be the term used to desrcibe my own life, it just so happens to be the name of the film. It’s about two women attending a speed dating event, and all the characters they meet in the process.  I play a “creeper wearing black jeans and a black hoodie, talking about how he would avoid being raped.”  Mom and dad would be so proud!

I’ve auditioned for a few student films in the past and this is the first one I’ve been cast in, and I didn’t even audition.  I submitted my headshot, resume, and reel, and received a great e-mail from the director, Alec Isaacs, offering me the role.  I started the day with an audition for an “in class” project for another film student (which I just found out I booked), and then raced right “to set.”  I use all of those fancy film terms in quotes because they stil sound foreign to me, being a theatre guy.

We’re shooting at this club called Stash on 14th street.  They had bagels, poptarts, and coffee for brunch, and a great dinner of beef and chicken sliders, complete with fries and salad.  I’m quickly learning that the key to keeping everyone happy is to have good food!  When you walk in, knowing it’s going to be a long day, and you’re greeted with a table full of goodies, you know you’re in good hands!

We shot a couple of the group scenes today, and tomorrow, after my church gig, we’ll get to work on the montage, where all the characters come to life.

What was great about today was the great energy and sense of humor everyone had.  When you’re working for free, as you do with student films, it helps when you can just have a really great time doing something fun and creative.  The “payment” for student films is a copy of the finished product that use can use for your reel-a video montage of the work that you’ve done.  So when money isn’t involved, a hot cup of coffee and a couple of sliders can go a long way!

I took a couple photos which I’ll upload after we “wrap” tomorrow.  But now, it’s time to head to bed so I can get up first thing and head to church.

Sleep tight!

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